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Everything You Need to Love Walking and Running

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Putting one foot in front of the other -- it's so simple, yet it can completely change your life. Here, 11 reasons to tie up your laces and go.

Walk and Run for Your Body

Walking and running can flatten your abs, and more.

"You can help strengthen your core, tone your glutes, and get lean, defined legs by running or walking regularly," says Ed Laskowski, MD, codirector of the Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Rochester, Minnesota. To see the most benefits in your abs, focus on keeping your core muscles engaged (imagine pulling your belly button toward your spine) and breathing deeply as you go.

Walking is an excellent workout for beginners -- and costs almost nothing.

"I started walking as a form of cardio that wasn't intimidating but was still challenging," says Heather Washington, 30, a software trainer in Savannah, Georgia. "Walking was something I could do at my own pace with little equipment, wherever I wanted." Aside from comfy clothes (including a good sports bra), all you really need is a reliable pair of athletic shoes, which should last about six months or 600 miles.

Walking is a no-fail way to lose weight.

A study from the Center for Physical Activity and Health at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville found that women who take 10,000 steps per day (about 5 miles) have lower body-fat ratios and waist and hip circumferences than their less active counterparts. Walking is an easy calorie burner, too. You'll shed 210 calories in 30 minutes when walking a 15-minute mile; 420 when running a 10-minute mile.

These workouts provide huge heart-health benefits.

"Walking increases HDL [good] cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, and assists with weight control," says Dr. Laskowski. A study from Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston reported that brisk walking for three or more hours a week could reduce the risk of heart attacks and heart disease-related deaths in women by an astounding 35 percent.

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